Universal Standard for J. Crew Review

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If you've read just a few posts on Wardrobe Oxygen you know I am a fan of Universal Standard. And if you scan through my 13 years of blog posts you'll see many many outfits featuring J. Crew. So you KNOW I was excited to hear that Universal Standard collaborated with J. Crew on a collection of 21 pieces of clothing from sizes XXS to 5X available at J. Crew online and in select stores. I ordered a variety of pieces of clothing from the Universal Standard for J. Crew collection so I could share an honest, unsponsored review.

Universal Standard for J. Crew Collection Review

In Universal Standard, I am a size XS and petite when available, but the Universal Standard for J. Crew collection uses J. Crew/standard sizing. Everything I ordered was in Large Regular (the collection at this time does not have lengths). Overall view, I find the quality quite good. The poplin softens with steam and each washing, is tightly woven, and not the type to collect lint. The ponte is a heavy weight, the jersey is silky and drapes beautifully, the colors are saturated and true to what you see on your screen. Fit I find to be very similar to Universal Standard; if you're familiar with the brand you'll see consistencies in armholes, torso length, and shaping. I specifically ordered a variety of separates in a mix of fabrics to try to get a good feel for the overall collection. What I tried and whether it was a hit or a miss.

Universal Standard for J.Crew poplin high-low maxi dress – Color Bright Ruby, Size Large (retails for $150)

The cotton poplin fabric has a hint of nylon which gives it a bit of stretch and a subtle sheen. The dress has an invisible back zipper and slim ties sewn into seams in the back of the dress that you can choose to tie in front or in the back. The hem has a wide strip sewn to it that gives a bit of flounce. It is a high-low hem; on my 5'3″ self it was mid-calf in front and ankle length in back.

If you read yesterday's post about this dress you'll know I'm a bit conflicted.  The color is fantastic, fantastic enough to cloud my vision. This is definitely a dress made for a larger body.  It's also a dress where I'm not sure one would wear it.  The bottom half is festive and fun, the top is very minimalistic.  Too frou-frou for the office, too red for a lot of occasions like weddings, and too casual of fabric for dressier occasions.  It would be cute with a denim jacket in the fall, but I didn't keep it and I don't regret it. Returned.

Universal Standard for J.Crew asymmetrical bow-strap T-shirt – Color Black, Size Large (retails for $65)

I have this top from Universal Standard and love the idea but hate that the knot doesn't cover a bra strap. I ordered this one thinking it may be an alternative that does properly cover a standard bra. And it does.

The knit is silky and feels luxe. The bow isn't tied so you can adjust it to your body and personal taste (bow, knot, hold it together with a brooch, etc.). However, this top isn't wowing me.  Online it looks like an off the shoulder top with a bow attached; in person, it looks more like a cold shoulder on one side. It's far too long on my body to wear untucked and I wanted something that would look great tucked or untucked.  While the quality is stellar the overall effect didn't look as luxe as the pricetag. Returned.

Universal Standard for J.Crew linen V-neck top – Color Alpine Meadow, Size large (retails for $90)

I wanted to know if this was as rich a green as it looked online and it is a gorgeous green color. This is a good weight of linen, I think it would be opaque even in the white color. There's a side zipper but I was able to put it on without unzipping. This is a linen blend of cotton, linen, and a hint of elastane and I found it a bit rough and scratchy but that likely would subside with laundering.

I put this top on and Emerson said I was wearing doctor clothing.  And yep, especially in green this top looks like it's scrubs. It's not at all my style for fabric, cut, or purpose.  This top, like most of this collection, is made for a taller and larger body.  Returned.

Universal Standard for J.Crew wide-leg ponte pant with stripe – Color Black, Size Large (retails for $120)

I don't have photos of these pants because they're at the tailor. I liked them so much I took them to be shortened to a better length for my 5'3″ self.

These are a heavyweight ponte that don't show any lumps or bumps. The white stripes are sewn on, they're a woven ribbed fabric (think a glam version of Adidas track pants more than a tuxedo stripe). There are no front pockets, but there are back pockets which keep the pants looking more polished and professional. The waistband is elastic but it's a wide waistband that looks elegant and could easily work with a tucked-in top. These are the kind of pants I often wish I had in my closet – super comfy and easy but they look stylish.  I could throw on with sneakers, a t-shirt and denim jacket, or style with a cashmere turtleneck and heeled ankle boots.

Universal Standard for J.Crew jersey longline T-shirt – Color Iced Lilac, Size Large (retails for $50)

I ordered this knowing it wouldn't work for my height, but I wanted to see the quality and shape.  I ordered the lilac because I felt it would nicely show the detail, but it comes in a lot of different colors.  This gets good reviews online, and I think again like everything I ordered, it would be a whole different effect on a larger body.

On me, this is a super pricey nightgown.  Some online reviews are by people who say they wore this as a dress… I don't recommend that.  Even in a darker color, this is a very thin silky knit that will show everything. That along with the curved hem and it just looks too much like a nightshirt.  But if you're taller, this is a nice top to wear with leggings, tucked in with pants or a skirt, worn with ankle pants and a longer blazer. The sleeves are fantastic – great length and they look fitted but aren't too tight. If you like it, order it but please please don't wear this as a dress. You can do better. Returned.

My Thoughts on the Universal Standard for J. Crew Collection

I am thrilled that this collaboration happened.  It's thrilling to see such an extensive size range at J. Crew and I love that Universal Standard, a brand I love, is the one they collaborated with.  The quality is stellar, the colors are rich, the fabrics, for the most part, are lovely. And though this line has sizes XXS-5X, like most of Universal Standard, the pieces are made for someone larger than I am.  Not just because the pieces are long on me, but the cuts are made to flatter a larger, curvier body.  And that's utterly fantastic.  There are too few options for plus size women who desire quality, simple style, a bit of edge; Universal Standard and this collection with J. Crew offers just that.  But for me, it was a miss.  I am too short, and I desire more styling in what pieces I choose for my closet.  But I wouldn't say this collection as a whole is a miss; it could be really fantastic on the right woman.  I am just not that woman.

Shop the Universal Standard for J. Crew Collection:

21 Comments

21 Comments

  • GingerR August 1, 2018

    I always liked the one shoulder black sweater you mentioned, so the black top with the ribbon seems like a more wearable option. I often alter similar tops to be shorter, but I think a silky knot is hard to alter . Any chance a styling with a belt or a half tuck would rescue that shirt?

    As to the scrub shirt, the deep color is the asset there and I wonder about it for, over a lip dress, or flowing pants and styled to be a minimal color-blocked look.

    • Alison Gary August 2, 2018

      Universal Standard just came out with a shirt dress that appears to be the same color. So exciting!

  • Karen July 31, 2018

    I just don’t understand ANY of the items in the JCrew collab. Do we really need one more shirt with a bow on the sleeve? I love your asssessment of the ones you tried on. Where would you wear ANY of these? A shirt that’s too short to be a dress, but too long to be a top…a dress that looks like you could only wear it to a church picnic in 1955…a surgical scrub top? WHY? There is so much potential wasted here. Even with the ponte pants, I feel like they’re a good idea in theory, but in reality how much wear would they get?

    • Alison Gary August 2, 2018

      LOL I don’t think you’re the only one who feels this way, but then I see so many raving about the collection and how wearable and fabulous the pieces are. Different strokes? But yeah, I didn’t even like the striped pieces and I looooove stripes. But I hope this is a start and J. Crew extends their size range across the board!

  • Justine July 31, 2018

    I bought and loved the ponte pants with the stripe. Unfortunately, the first time I wore them the stitching between the stripe and pants unravelled leaving a four inch hole down the side (they weren’t too small, even slightly oversized). Hopefully others have better luck with qualiry.

    • Alison Gary August 2, 2018

      Oh no that’s terrible! I hope you returned them. I haven’t had an issue yet, got back from the tailor but haven’t worn out and about.

  • Kim July 31, 2018

    Too red for a wedding? I’ve heard that one shouldn’t wear black to weddings but too red is a new one. I’ve always thought it was a cheerful colour. Can others chime in on this?

    • Alison Gary August 2, 2018

      See, I’ve never seen black as an issue except for certain religions. Red is seen as the color of passion and anger and for those reasons for years wasn’t seen as appropriate. Then it was an issue because it’s such a power color you’re drawing attention from the bride. There’s an old wives’ tale that any woman who wears red to a wedding slept with the groom (ridiculous). Guest should not wear red to Chinese weddings and for a few other religions and cultures. So I have just as a rule steered clear of it.

      • Kim August 12, 2018

        Thanks Allison! I appreciate the reply. I hadn’t thought about the power colour aspect of it but that makes a lot of sense.

  • Nebraskim July 31, 2018

    While the cut of that green top looks like scrubs and maybe is not the best fit on you, I think the color is stunning on you. I am not sure I remember you in this color of green, but you wear it well.

  • Carol July 31, 2018

    The red poplin dress is prettier on you than on the JCrew website, but your review confirms what I thought might be the problems with it. It looks so crinkly — like no matter how well you iron it or how careful you are not to wrinkle it up, it will still look crinkled. And yes, just too much dress for a petite body. I’m really anxious, too, to see you model the Ponte pants! They look fabulous online. I am short, and my legs are disproportionately shorter (I have a weirdly long torso), so I never purchase wider-legged pants. I am really hopeful these look stunning on you!

    • Alison Gary August 2, 2018

      I’ll try to style them soon, though I did hem them for a slight heel thinking of my fall and winter wardrobe. But I’ll see if I can summer-ize them and have them on soon!

  • Jen July 31, 2018

    I ordered the striped ponte pants and I’m anxious to try them. I’m def plus size and about 5’10 so i’m anxious to try some of the Universal line. I ordered my pants through Nordstrom.

  • Susan July 31, 2018

    I wore green scrubs for work and that was the first thought I had upon seeing the green top! I love the stripe pants and I also would love to see how you style them.

    • Alison Gary August 2, 2018

      LOL I wonder if they wish they did a different color! ANd stay tuned I hope to have the pants on here soon!

  • Patricia Hall July 31, 2018

    Looking forward to seeing you in those pants! I’m sure you’ll style them fabulously. I’m finding I’m returning 80% of online purchases from Nordstroms and Chicos. I like the quality but for various reasons I don’t need them. With the Caslon tee shirts; turns out I’m re-buying tops nearly identical to what I already own. I make myself purge in order to make room for the new. While I came up with a bag of tees to pass along to my daughter in law, I also discovered multiple tees hidden in drawers. Sigh.

    Something billed as a black fleecy tunic turned out to be a very thin sweater knit and just didn’t do much for me. I wound up keeping a Caslon cowl neck tunic and am on the fence about a Red Rumba Caslon tee. I don’t have anything that shade of cranberry and it’s such a fall color.

    I ordered several on sale items from Chico’s. The Ponte ankle pants turned out to fit more light leggings; not a good look on me. And I just wasn’t feeling the white textured front hook jacket once I tried it on. All were incredible bargains but it’s no bargain if I don’t love it and don’t wear it.

    Still waiting for a pair of booties to arrive. Hopefully they’ll feel super comfortable and be a great addition to my fall wardrobe.

    Due to your schedule, you do nearly all your shopping online. About what percent winds up going back?

    • Alison Gary August 2, 2018

      The more I shop online, the better I get about knowing my size and style. But still about 30-40% is returned. I have simplified shopping online, sticking to retailers with easy shipping and return policies and brands I am familiar with. Once I’m a set size, I have an 80% success rate, right now with my changing figure there’s been more returns. Sales are always hard because you don’t know if you’re getting a bargain or a cheap thing added for more good prices.

  • Marie July 31, 2018

    What size did you take in the Ponte pants with the stripe? I wanted to buy them but I wasn’t sure which size and I hate having to return stuff.

    • Alison Gary August 2, 2018

      I took large, though if I were 10 pounds lighter or wanted a tighter fit Medium would have worked.

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